Cartersville Police Department in early May released information after seeing the number of entering auto reports skyrocket in April. The department on Monday reported 77 total entering auto reports for the year, CPD Public Information Officer Capt. Mark Camp said.
According to crimemapping.com, within Cartersville city limits, residents reported the following number of vehicle break-ins: 11 in January, 13 in February, 10 in March, 23 in April, 16 in May, and four through 5 p.m. Monday.
Three of the four for this month occurred overnight Friday at an area hotel. According to the incident reports, just after 8:30 a.m. Saturday a Cartersville officer met with three vehicle owners who reported their autos had been entered at the Canyon Parkway location.
More than $5,000 in total items were reported missing from the three vehicles, which included a moving truck, a minivan and a pickup. The van and pickup had windows broken out, while the lock was cut off the rear roll-up door on the moving truck.
Bartow County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Jonathan Rogers said thieves look for vehicles with valuables visible, which often makes hotel guests an easy target.
“These are typically crimes of opportunity, and if a potential criminal walks by your car and sees a laptop or phone or iPod laying in the open, they will likely try to open the doors and, if locked, will either break the window if they are in a place they are likely to get away with it or move on if they think they will be caught. So that is something to keep in mind as well as where you park. Make sure it is well lit if dark, and in public view or camera view,” he said. “One thing to note: if you are staying in a motel, hotel overnight, take all of your belongings inside. Criminals know that people staying in these places typically only carry in what they will need overnight and leave valuables in the car.”
While the city expressed concern over the number of entering autos, Rogers reported a decline in the numbers for the county over the same time periods in the past two years.
In 2011, the county took 363 total entering auto reports with 17 resulting in arrests. From Jan. 1 to June 3, 2011, 148 entering auto reports were filed with eight arrests made. For 2012, the total reports for the year dropped to 333, resulting in 20 arrests. In the Jan. 1 to June 3 period of 2012, 147 reports were filed with 14 arrests made. Through Monday, the county had taken 104 entering auto reports with three resulting in arrests.
“I did a little research on this and I also can speak from my knowledge of working with these cases. The usual ‘trend’ for these types of crimes is, like you say, summertime when people are visiting lakes and pools — windows are down or doors unlocked or items left in plain view, so naturally there is usually an increase in these incidents over the summer months,” Rogers said. “There are groups of criminal ‘professionals’ who commit entering-auto crimes on a regular basis and actually research the areas and items they may get prior to the crimes. These groups are popular around metro Atlanta and mostly target cash, wallets, credit cards and purses.”
Both Rogers and Camp urged residents to lock vehicles, lock garage doors and not leave valuables in view.
“The absolute best way to deter these crimes is by not presenting the criminal with a profitable offense,” Rogers stressed. “Keep valuables out of sight. If possible, keep valuables out of an unattended vehicle. If planning a day at the pool or beach, only take what valuables you need: cash — only amount to be used — or one debit or credit card would be best, and of course, identification or driver’s license.
“Many times people report a camera or laptop or medication missing — if it is not needed for where the car is unattended, leave it at home or office. There are some options available to store valuables inside a vehicle such as a lockable safe.”
Camp said the majority of cases involved unlocked vehicles.
“Lock your vehicle. In the majority of instances where these types of crimes take place, the vehicle was not locked. By locking the vehicle and by securing valuables in the trunk or preferably by completely removing them from the vehicle, opportunities for theft are reduced,” he said. “If your car is in a garage, lock the garage doors. If your car must be parked outside in a driveway and there is not a light close to the car, install a motion sensor light that will turn on if someone comes close to the vehicle.”
Authorities advise residents to call 911 if you observe any criminal activity.